What to Expect After a Heart Attack

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Heart Attack
Last Reviewed 02/18/2014

What to Expect After a Heart Attack

Time is of the essence when you’re dealing with a heart attack. The best chance for survival and optimum recovery occurs if you are treated within two hours of the onset of symptoms.

At the hospital, things will move quickly. Up to 50 percent of the time, sudden death is the first symptom of heart disease, so any patient who survives the first two hours after a heart attack has passed a significant milestone. However, even with the best of medical care, 10 percent to12 percent of those who survive the initial attack never leave the hospital. (They die in the days after a heart attack.)

When it’s time for a patient to be discharged from the hospital, close caregivers should be present for any medical instructions because patients frequently don’t remember details after a heart attack. In fact, patients sometimes fail to recognize hospital staff members when they return for follow-up visits—that kind of psychological side effect is common during times of shock and trauma.

At home, one of the biggest challenges that patients and loved ones face is a sense of day-to-day suspense. Many patients say they feel like they are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. These feelings are normal after a heart attack.

While I hope you’ll never need this information, I want you to be aware of what to expect after a heart attack, and that includes post-heart attack symptoms.

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